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Aboriginal Customs

Kuku Nyungkal local lore for their country has been described to anthropologist Dr Christopher Anderson as follows:

The Upper Annan River area was divided into [between nine and twelve ] patrilineal clan estates. 

Each estate was based on a discrete part of the Annan drainage basin... These... estates formed a linguistically and culturally distinctive bloc over which travel and access to resources were relatively free for any person associated with the estates here was a tendency for all adult men to attempt to stay on their own patrilineal estates... [and] the land-using groups consisted... of people related in a variety of ways… based on a ‘core element’ consisting of a focal male, known as maja maja, his wives and children. The maja maja were identified with particular semi-permanent camps within their own patrilineal clan estate. These men would try to stay as much as possible at their own camps within their own estates, for it was there that their power was greatest.

The maja maja were particular individuals of high achieved status and power... who by virtue of their age, their knowledge of and supposed connections with the supernatural forces emanate in the ngujakura (law’ or ‘dreaming’)... were charged with the ‘minding’ and ‘looking after’ of their respective countries and the people associated with them. They ensured the health and well being in the human world and order in the natural world – particularly the steady supply of resources from the land by overseeing the maintenance of law’ by everyone. The breaking of social and cultural regulations was seen almost always to have ecological consequences, and moral knowledge and subsistence knowledge were seen as inextricably linked

With their perceived special relationship to the yirru or ‘nature-spirit’ which was said to live in the ground at certain sites... the old men were able to... sanction or punish... breaches of the moral code.